Risshaku-ji is also known as the Mountain Temple. Passing by countless cedar trees on the way up to this historical place, you can feel the sense of solitude that this remote location provided. The views from Godaido Hall are said to be some of the best in Northern Japan. A thousand years ago, a flame was carried to this temple from the Enryaku-ji monastery near Kyoto. It still burns brightly to this day.
Matsuo Basho and the Mountain Temple
A haiku about the tranquil beauty of the temple is carved into a rock as a tribute to Matsuo Basho. He spent time in Tohoku and worked on his poetry here. The 5-7-5 syllable haiku reads:
Iwa ni shimikomu
Semi no koe
How still it is!
Stinging into the stones,
The locusts' trill.
Visitors to Yama-dera (Mountain Temple) of Risshaku-ji can feel the stillness that inspired one of Japan’s most important literary figures.
(Translation of haiku: Donald Keene, World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-Modern Era, 1600-1867, New York, 1999, p. 89 (Translation: Donald Keene)
Ginzan Onsen Hot Springs Town
A pretty little resort town located in the mountains of Yamagata. The rows of old fashioned buildings are picturesque. It may feel like you have been transported back to a simpler time.
To some visitors, it reminds them of the years of the Taisho Emperor who reigned from 1912-1926.
Kosekiya is a charming ryokan. It is one of the ryokan inns that make up the hot spring resort town of Ginzan.
At the end of the 11th century, in order to bring about the “land of Buddha” where neither friend nor foe exists (an ideal society according to the teachings of Buddha), Kiyohira Fujiwara, his son Motohira and grandson Hidehira built the city of Hiraizumi over a period of 100 years. The most famous structures of the city are Chuson-ji Temple and Motsu-ji Temple..
The Chuson-ji Temple Konjiki-do Golden Hall is covered in gold leaf both inside and out. The interior is decorated with iridescent shell inlay, delicate metal fittings, and gold and silver sprinkled over lacquer. The beauty of Konjiki-do is mesmerizing.
Also of note is the building known as Oi-do which encases the Konjiki-do. Oi-do was created to conceal the Konjiki-do in order to protect its beauty..
Poet Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) saw a scene here at Chuson-ji Temple. It appeared that the rain could not directly fall over Konjiki-do.
This inspired his famous haiku;
“So the rains of Spring fall and fall,
yet leave untouched this bright Hall of God”.
Motsu-ji Temple is famous for its beautiful Jodo-teien style Japanese garden. The style is based on an ancient Japanese text known as Sakuteiki. Flowing water and an arrangement of garden rocks were carefully placed as to symbolize nature and creating a space to both capture and calm one’s heart.
Genbi Gorge in Iwate Prefecture
Ichinoseki City is home to Genbi Gorge.
There are two kilometers of towering rockfaces along this gorge and many points along it offer spectacular views.
A treasured spot of natural beauty in the Tohoku area.
The elaborately decorated resting place of the powerful Daté feudal lords. Guidance is available in English.
Daté Masamune, the founder of Sendai City and known as The One-Eyed Dragon, is buried in this mausoleum complex. There are several monuments and structures with remarkable designs incorporating gold and colorful patterns.
Akihiro Takagi from Iwate Tourism Association
About Chuson-ji Buddhist Temple:
In June 2011, Chuson-ji became Iwate Prefecture’s first World Heritage Site. It is associated with three generations of the powerful Northern Fujiwara Clan.
Konjiki-do is a work of art. The entire structure. This Golden Hall is a breathtaking combination of the pinnacle of Heian Period craftsmanship from the 8th-12th Centuries. Gold leaf, mother of pearl, and maki-e style lacquer work are all on display together.
Come see Sukhavati, the Bodhisattva Amitabha’s Pure Land, all covered in gold with your own eyes!
Kazuya Kuroi from Yamagata Tourism Association
Risshaku-ji Temple, also known as Yamadera or The Mountain Temple is well known as sacred ground in Tendai Buddhism here in in the Tohoku Region of Northern Japan. Established as a place of reflection and meditation by the venerated monk Ennin, it later went on to be the inspiration for famous haiku by the foremost Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho.
The climb to the observation point at Godaido Hall is quite strenuous, but once you reach the top, the views of the jagged rocks and tall trees are well worth it. The scenery was described by renowned American scholar Edwin O. Reischauer as “Another Japan, beyond the mountains”.
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